A recent report from Juniper Research anticipates a significant surge in cellular roaming among low-power IoT devices in the next five years.
The report projects that roaming connections from narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M devices will increase more than fivefold, from 90 million in 2023 to 490 million by 2028. This substantial growth is expected to be driven by an increase in bilateral roaming agreements between mobile operators. These agreements, tailored for IoT devices with limited resources, will facilitate continuous connectivity for assets crossing international borders. This development is set to unlock new use cases in sectors such as supply chain tracking, connected vehicles, and smart city infrastructure.
However, Juniper Research highlights a challenge for carriers: accurately detecting and accounting for IoT traffic on their networks. The sporadic connectivity patterns of low-power devices complicate the process of collecting roaming revenue. As roaming volumes escalate, operators will need to harness AI and machine learning capabilities to effectively identify connections and usage patterns of IoT devices.
Alex Webb, Juniper Research author, emphasises the need for operators to optimize revenue opportunities. “To maximise roaming revenue, operators should use AI-based detection tools for premium billing of roaming connections. This involves implementing roaming agreements that base connectivity costs on the network resources utilised and the duration of network connection.”
This evolving scenario presents both challenges and opportunities for global carriers. Adapting network infrastructure and business strategies to accommodate the rapidly growing segment of cellular IoT roamers is becoming increasingly important. Capitalising on the value from billions of mobile assets is set to be a pivotal growth narrative for the telecom sector in the coming years.